Early spring in Europe matches recent climate warming

August 25, 2006

Conclusive proof that spring is arriving earlier across Europe than it did 30 years ago is published today in the journal Global Change Biology.

Scientists from 17 countries have collaborated in the world's largest phenology study (the recording of changes in natural annual events such as the flowering of plants) and now have real evidence that climate change is affecting the seasons.

Led by Dr Annette Menzel from the Technical University Munich in Germany, and Dr Tim Sparks of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in the UK, the research team has discovered that spring arrives an average of 6-8 days earlier that it did in the past. And in countries where rapid increases in temperature have occurred, that figure is almost doubled.

The scientists examined more than 125,000 datasets to find out what changes were occurring across Europe, and when. Their research also reveals a definite contrast with spring arriving later in countries such as Slovakia, that have had recent decreases in temperature. The pattern was most evident as an advance in spring but the warmer temperatures have also tended to delay autumn, by an average of about 3 days over the last 30 years.

Dr Menzel said "Unlike some studies that record individual species, this is the first comprehensive examination of all available data at the continental scale, using around 550 plant species, and the timing change is clear, very clear".

Dr Sparks commented "Not only do we clearly demonstrate change in the timing of seasons, but that change is much stronger in countries that have experienced more warming." He added "Many plant species grow throughout Europe, so, for example, a direct comparison of the flowering date of wild cherry which is two weeks earlier in the UK with that in Austria which is only 3 days earlier is possible with this huge dataset."

Source: Natural Environment Research

Explore further: Spain, Portugal struggle with extreme drought

Related Stories

Spain, Portugal struggle with extreme drought

November 21, 2017

Spain and Portugal are grappling with a devastating drought which has left rivers nearly dry, sparked deadly wildfires and devastated crops—and experts warn that prolonged dry spells will become more frequent.

Where does bad air come from?

November 14, 2017

Auchencorth Moss is one of Scotland's distinctive moorlands, which for generations have provided people with a lifesaving source of peat to burn to keep warm.

Study sheds new light on krill larvae survival

November 15, 2017

An international study involving British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists has shed light on how the larvae of Antarctic krill – small shrimp-like crustaceans – use sea ice to ensure their successful development and survival ...

Recommended for you

Researchers pin down one source of a potent greenhouse gas

November 20, 2017

A study of a Lake Erie wetland suggests that scientists have vastly underestimated the number of places methane-producing microbes can survive—and, as a result, today's global climate models may be misjudging the amount ...

Clay mineral waters Earth's mantle from the inside

November 20, 2017

The first observation of a super-hydrated phase of the clay mineral kaolinite could improve our understanding of processes that lead to volcanism and affect earthquakes. In high-pressure and high-temperature X-ray measurements ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.